How to Organize a Thanksgiving Potluck

February 26, 2021 |

A Thanksgiving potluck can be a great way to entertain at home without having to do all the work yourself or shoulder all the expenses. It will take some planning and organization, but could make all the difference between a fun Thanksgiving and one where you’re stuck in the kitchen all day cooking while you worry about your bills.

Here ís how to organize a Thanksgiving potluck in 12 simple steps.

Make Your Guest List

Decide who is coming. Make a list, put in their contact information, and note down anything you know about their food preferences (such as vegetarian) or their allergies (such as nuts). Send out the invitations and ask them to RSVP. Also note if they are going to bring a guest, or whole family, in your final tally of how many people you need to feed.

You Take the Turkey (and Main Dishes)?

Although traditionally the host should take care of the turkey and maybe some of the main dishes, it’s not a law! You can purchase a premade turkey and some sides, or ask some of your guests if they would be willing to do those menu items. Determine how much you will need in order to feed all of your invited guests, plus a few extra portions just in case, or for leftovers.

List the Sides and Essentials

In a word processing document, list all of the sides you would like to have as an accompaniment to your main course/s. For example, if you are serving turkey, your sides would likely be:

  • Stuffing
  • Green bean casserole
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • Corn

You could also list desserts, like:

  • Pumpkin pie
  • Cheesecake
  • Apple pie
  • Angel food cake
  • And so on

For drinks, depending on what you feel it appropriate to serve, you might list:

  • Cranberry juice
  • Seltzer
  • Coke
  • Sprite
  • Beer
  • Wine

Include food allergy issues to avoid, without naming any names, and ask anyone to email you back with any issue you might not know about, just in case. Also ask them to check this with their guests if they are bringing a friend or date.

Get Them to Commit

Once you are happy with your list, post it on Google Docs or Google Drive and invite people to share the file. They will get a link emailed to them. Ask them to pencil in their name next to one or more items they would like to contribute to the feast.

Make Space for All the Contributions

Set up a buffet table where everyone can add their items as they arrive. If the table is small, put any desserts in the kitchen until they will be needed. Note: some of them might need to be kept cold in the fridge or freezer.

Organize Lots of Serving Utensils

These are essential so your guests can help themselves.

Be Ready to Microwave

Most of the dishes that arrive will be warm at best, so be prepared to heat them up in the microwave.

Organize Glasses and Ice

This will help the beverage serving go smoothly.

Have Small Plates and Utensils Ready for the Dessert Course

Have these items ready for easy serving.

Decide If You Will Serve Coffee or Tea

These hot beverages are nice with dessert, but they will require organization and cups, mugs, milk, sugar, spoons and so on.

Don’t Forget the Extras and Condiments

Butter, mayo, and so on will help enhance the meal.

Have Plenty of Napkins and Paper Towels

This will help keep things neat and tidy, and enable you to cover any spills quickly.

If you are hosting Thanksgiving this year, a potluck can be the way to go. Use these 12 steps to help you get organized.

Category: Budget Friendy, Guests

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